With minimal advance notice, the New College Board of Trustees (BOT) held a “special” virtual meeting with one agenda item: to discuss the revised E&G Carryforward Spending Plan. The Carryforward plan was previously presented to the BOT at the Oct. 3 meeting, where Faculty Trustee Amy Reid raised questions regarding the $600,959 Athletics budget before a motion to approve the plan was made by recommendation of the Finance and Administration Committee, seconded by Trustee Lance Karp.
The virtual meeting lasted approximately 19 minutes, excluding the seven minutes of online silence before the meeting was actually called to order by Chief of Staff Christie Fitz-Patrick. Six of the 12 trustees were present for this special meeting.
Despite the lack of notice regarding the meeting, four public comments were made to the board. Chair Debra Jenks instructed these individuals to address the E&G Carryforward Spending Plan exclusively, as it was the only item on the agenda.
“Trustees are duty-bound to utilize appropriate data, to make good decisions. You’re making budgetary decisions today, including about athletics. You’ve never been provided an athletics budget,” New College alum Juliana Paré-Blagoev (‘94) stated, “Again, you were provided sparse information late. You don’t have what you need to thoughtfully deliberate. Gentlemen, does that bother you? I hope it does… ask about the black boxes in this budget… As a trustee, you should each provide fiduciary oversight, it’s your responsibility. Please, do your job.”
Former Catalyst editor and alum Mike Sanderson (‘04) concluded the public comment portion of the meeting by acknowledging the previous budget that had been created for the Athletics Program, saying, “The Athletics Program is unsustainable. Student athletes are paying for their own uniforms, they know players at other schools have it better… Meanwhile, the Foundation is spending…more than two-and-a-half times more on Corcoran’s salary than on athletes.”
Jenks asked for a motion to approve the agenda item. Karp made the motion, seconded by Trustee Mark Baurlein. Jenks proceeded to ask Fitz-Patrick to present and explain the agenda item.
Fitz-Patrick did not discuss the specific revisions made to the Carryforward Plan; however, she did note that all revisions were reported in the background information included in the meeting materials.
Several buckets were removed from the plan, including the Athletics Start-Up Cost, the Fall ’24 Hotel Cost and the Spring ’24 Hotel Cost. Several campus renovation budgets were removed from the Fixed Capital Outlay Plan.
Several buckets were added to Operating Plans: Enhancements pursuant to Special LBC Appropriation ($6,415,559), Campus Police Safety Enhancements ($434,000) and IT Equipment Upgrades ($751,400).
Three buckets were added to the Fixed Capital Outlay Project Plan: Generator Upgrades ($750,000), Heiser Strobic Fan Replacement ($1,900,000) and College Hall ($821,091).
Several revisions were also made to the Fixed Capital Outlay Project Plan. The Campus Master Plan Amendment is now combined with all Master Plan costs, totaling $572,706. The Car Museum Renovation cost has been increased from $750,000 to $960,465. The Caples Fine Arts Exterior has increased from $115,275 to $290,607.
Karp asked for clarification regarding the funds included in the plan, ensuring that the money has been previously approved by the BOT. Fitz-Patrick explained that the funds had simply shifted to different budgets. She confirmed that the funds were approved by the BOT in a previous meeting but the Board was now voting on the buckets the money should be allocated to.
Reid questioned the Item 1 Carryforward Spending Plan Category: Other Operating Requirements (University Board of Trustees-Approved That Support the University Mission). “That seems to me a very vague bucket and I’m wondering if this does include the sports money, the money for athletics that you’ve said has been moved out of Carryforward to someplace else. What is in the $6.4-million bucket?” Reid questioned.
“Putting it in where we did in this Carryforward Plan is going to allow for us or you all, as theTrustees and the President, to revisit that number throughout the year and utilize those dollars as needed for specific projects that come up,” Fitz-Patrick responded.
She went on to clarify that the $6.4-million budget is not currently tied to a specific bucket at this time.
Reid then followed up with a question regarding the movement of the Athletics fund.
“We have not received any budget information for the Athletics Program.” Reid stated.
Fitz-Patrick clarified that the previously approved $600,000 budget for the Athletics Program was a placeholder and that those funds are not needed for the development of the Athletics Program and, therefore, that money has been removed from the Carryforward Plan altogether.
Fitz-Patrick then addressed Reid’s comment regarding the lack of information about the Athletics budget. “As to the actual Athletics budget, we’ll be happy to provide that over to you—that pretty well is finalized at this point.”
“It’s regrettable that we don’t have [Athletics budget] for this meeting since this is our third meeting in the past month. It would’ve been helpful to have this, we’ve been asking for these budgets,” Reid replied. “I continue to be concerned at the fact that we’re getting budget reports that have more vagueness than precision.”
Student Trustee Grace Keenan then addressed President Richard Corcoran, asking for an update regarding more detailed budgets. Corcoran reassured Keenan that both the Trustees and the public would be provided with the budgets within the 60-day deadline that was previously promised.
A roll call vote was conducted regarding the approval of the revised Carryforward Plan. The motion was approved with Keenan and Reid voting nay.
Following the motion’s approval, the meeting was adjourned.